UConn Heads To Final Four, Beats Arizona State
March 31, 2009
TRENTON, New Jersey (AP) - The Connecticut express is headed to St. Louis for the Final Four, a trip the perfect Huskies have seemed destined to make all season.
Maya Moore scored 25 points and undefeated UConn beat Arizona State 83-64 on Tuesday night to advance to the national semifinals for the second straight season and ninth time in the last 14 years.
Renee Montgomery added 22 points for the Huskies (37-0), who will face Stanford on Sunday in a rematch of last season's national semifinal. The Cardinal won that game before losing in the championship to Tennessee.
UConn hasn't lost since and is two wins away from the program's third perfect season.
Danielle Orsillo scored 18 to lead Arizona State (26-9), which played the Huskies as competitively as just about any other opponent this season but still had its season end in the regional final for the second time in three years.
It was a busy day for Moore, who made The Associated Press All-America team for the second straight season.
She also broke UConn's single-season scoring record on a step-back 3-pointer late in the first half that gave the Huskies their first double-digit lead of the game 34-24.
The sensational sophomore passed Kara Wolters' record of 694 points set in 1995-96. Wolters was sitting courtside doing radio for a Connecticut station.
And Moore nabbed another honor after the game, being selected the Trenton Regionals most outstanding player.
Moore was joined on the All-America team by Montgomery, marking the first time a pair of teammates were on the first-team since 2000. Tina Charles, who added 18 points and 13 rebounds against the Sun Devils, earned second-team honors.
Connecticut had dismantled opponents this season, including beating eight ranked teams by an average of 31 points.
Arizona State tried to wear down UConn with its hockey-like substitution pattern. Coach Charli Turner Thorne put in three or four fresh players every few minutes.
It worked early on as UConn struggled for the second straight game against a Pac-10 opponent. The Huskies turned the ball over 12 times in the first half and Montgomery picked up three fouls early on sending her to the bench.
UConn led 20-19 in a back-and-forth contest before Moore started a 9-2 run that made it 29-21 with 3:55 left in the first half.
After a three-point play by Orsillo, Moore scored five straight points, including her record-breaking 3-pointer that made it 34-24. The Huskies led 37-28 at the half.
They extended the lead to 13, but the Sun Devils wouldn't go away, heating up from behind the 3-point arc. After making just two of their first 10 3-pointers, Arizona State hit three straight to stay within striking distance. Nia Fanaika's 3-pointer midway through the second half made it 59-51.
Then Moore and Montgomery took over. Moore hit consecutive 3-pointers and Montgomery followed with a layup to extend the advantage to 16. The two All-Americans scored 16 straight for UConn as Arizona State could get no closer than 12 the rest of the way.
The Huskies, who outrebounded the Sun Devils 45-19, haven't let an opponent come within single digits all season.
The Sun Devils survived a tough road to get to the regional finals. After losing star guard Dymond Simon in the regular season finale against Stanford to an ACL injury, they were beaten in their first game of the Pac-10 tournament.
Arizona State regrouped and beat host Georgia in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. The Sun Devils then went on to upset No. 3 seed Florida State before knocking off second-seeded Texas A&M on Sunday.
Connecticut had a much easier route beating Vermont and Florida at home before using a 40-12 run over a 20-minute stretch to beat California in the regional semifinals.
Next stop for these Huskies is St. Louis, with no signs of slowing down when they get there.